Words & Photos by Rod Snyder
Mother Nature must have known that Chris Robinson was gonna be in town, and lifted the Spring ban on Philadelphia. Winter has overstayed it’s welcome on the East Coast, as many will agree! Tonight turned out to be a nice, mild, Wednesday evening in Philadelphia and As The Crow Flies, Robinson’s current live band, took to the stage to a sold out crowd at the Electric Factory. Armed with mostly ex-Crowes Alumni, the line-up featured Audley Freed on guitar, Andy Hess on bass, Adam MacDougall on keys, Tony Leone on drums, and Marcus King rounded out the guitar section.
Robinson announced a few months ago that he was embarking on a small tour where he wanted to sing some Black Crowes material. In a recent interview he said it’s been a few years since he sang any of those songs and wanted to sing some of them again. His other band, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, had a small break in their schedule and he decided to venture out for a few shows. A lot has been said about him embarking on this tour after some harsh words were said about brother Rich’s band, The Magpie Salute. There are a lot of haters out there, who can’t forgive what transpired between the battling brothers, and that’s ok, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. It’s a subject that could be talked about at length, but for the sake of this review, I’d like to just focus on this evening’s music.
The band took to the stage a little after 9:00 PM with great applause from the crowd. Everyone, including myself was eager to hear how the band sounded as well as how Chris’s vocals could handle singing the Crowes material these days. The show started off with a trio of classics – “Remedy”, “Sting Me”, and “Twice as Hard” – staples for any Black Crowes show. Chris had mentioned in a recent interview he did, prior to going on the road that he would be focusing on fan favorites, a greatest hits show, so to speak. So I wouldn’t anticipate hearing the likes of “Exit”, or “Bewildered”. The rest of the show did follow his plan.
There were a couple of changes to this night’s set vs the previous night’s opening show. “Sister Luck” and “High Head Blues” were added to the set, but the remaining songs were the same. Despite having only played one show prior to this evening’s set, they did jam on some of the songs, where you’d normally expect them to be. Among these were “High Head Blues”, “Wiser Time”, and both “Thorn In My Pride” and “My Morning Song”. There were a few covers thrown in, that were not of the Black Crowes catalog. David Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair”, Deep Purple’s “Hush” and “I’d Love To Change The World” by Ten Years After, which would be the final encore.
Overall, I thought it was a solid show. Was it the Black Crowes? No, and I don’t think he’s trying to make another Black Crowes band and I don’t think anyone is expecting it to be. Was it an enjoyable show? Yes, and the sold out crowd seemed to think so too. It’s nice to see that Chris’s voice can still handle the range of the Black Crowes material, with a few screams thrown in for good measure. He’s still got all of his classic front man moves as well.
The rest of the band sounded good, but you can tell they haven’t been playing too long together. Both Audley & Marcus are excellent axmen, but need to get comfortable with the Crowes catalog they will be playing, and jamming to together. The chemistry that Rich Robinson and Marc Ford have is not something that can be replicated. These guys will have to find that on the road. Another thing that was noticeably absent were the back up singers. It was especially noticeable during “My Morning Song”. The chorus and the frenzied ending was just not the same. Over the course of the tour though, I fully expect that the band will gain the traction and confidence needed to evolve into a more cohesive rock unit and give the fans more of what they want…ROCK N’ ROLL!
Twice As Hard
By Your Side
High Head Blues
Almost Cut My Hair
She Talks To Angels
Thorn in My Pride
My Morning Song
Hard To Handle->
Hard To Handle
I’d Love To Change The World
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